“Out All Night and Lost My Shoes”
a solo performance piece by Terry Galloway
Besides making me deaf and hallucinatory, being a modern medical accident also gave me my lively imagination and profound distrust of human nature. So when I was living in New York in Hell’s Kitchen before they remodeled it, poor as shit and deaf as a doornail and still trying to pass, I was already in a pretty nervy state. Then two things happened to push me over the edge.
It was a Sunday (that window of opportunity). I was reading the Sunday Times, missing the funnies when I came upon an article that interested me because it featured interviews of school kids by a group of psychologists. When I was young and hallucinatory and being interviewed by psychologists they were always asking me tough questions like “Kid are you a nut?”
So you know I thought “hmmm what are they up to these days?”
They were still asking tough questions. But they were asking these kids questions like “what do you think about the possibility of accidental annihilation?” Some of these kids are like four and five years old. “Uhh well, if Mommy likes it.”
But one of these kids was a little older, fourteen. So they ask him “what do you think about the possibility of accidental annihilation?” And this kid—fourteen—he says, “Oh I have accepted it–that there can be an end to time.”
A hellava lot tougher than I’ll ever be. But I don’t want to think about this. It’s Sunday I’m in New York. I know — I’m gonna go take a tour of the Museum of Natural History.
It was a terrible terrible mistake.
You guys know how the Museum of National History works. One of our illustrious Presidents, Teddy Roosevelt, slaughtered all these animals and then he had them stuffed and put in “lifelike” poses, like this (raises leg to pee). They put the stuffed bodies in diorams, little glass enclosed stages. And it’s uncanny. Everything looks so real. The grass looks real, the trees look real, the light look real, the dead look real. I loved it.
My favorite was the White Wolves display.
It’s twilight on the Alaskan tundra and the two white wolves are in mid-leap. Beautiful. But the one that heebie jeebies, the one that sent me flipping was a totally innocuous little forest scene.
And all that was — so I thought — was grass, trees and a stuffed rabbit. I can take this. “Hey, wascally Wabbit!” But then I got to looking a little closer and I see that some weirdo curator has taken a stuffed red fox and hidden it in the leaves behind the tree and I
just know the minute I turn my back that fox is gonna leap on that rabbit and — I don’t want to think about this.
I head over to the monkey case. And there they are glassy eyed and hairy, looking kind of like my uncles. Always good for a laugh. But there’s this little girl with her parents. I don’t know how old, little. And she says, “You mean they killed them just so we could see them? Grosssss!” And I was in perfect agreement. I found myself being drawn back to that glass case, kicking my heels against the glass, screaming “Run BunnyWunny! Oh run, you idiot, run!” But it’s like fate. You see it coming. You know what’s gonna happen the minute your back is turned. And there’s not one damn thing you can do about it.
When I left that place I was I was in a froth of fear, believing all these “unlikely” scenarios (whistling of bombs etc). muttering to myself. “Accidental annihilation, accidental annihilation!” There’s nothing I fear more than accident. I am one.
And I’m so afraid of being that afraid that I’m afraid I’ll just (slashes throat) to just get it all over with. So I do the sanest thing I’ve ever done in my life and check into Gracy Square Nut Hospital. Gracy Square is a hospital for people who are either very rich and very famous or just very poor and very very suicidal. I was just very direct. “You let me in right now or I’m going to kill every one of you.” They let me.
I was also very very very very nervous because I’d never been around crazy people before except for my family. I kept waiting for someone to do a Jessica Lange doing Francis Farmer — “Sam is my Shepard, I shall not want.” But no. Some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, one of the safest places in the world to be.
The only remotely crazy thing that happened was initiated by you guessed it the Doctors. It was called performance therapy. They’ve got something there — being crazy is like being a performer. Out there you’re one kind of person, up here you’re someone else altogether.
So every Monday night I used to do this thing that the doctors didn’t like very much but was a great hit with the schizophrenics. I’d go out of the room and when I’d come back I’d be somebody else altogether. So I’m going to go out now and when I come back I’ll be —
(Goes off stage)
Off Stage Voice: Yoo hooo Dr Katz! It’s me, Dr Katz, Sherrie Loose. Yes, that one. You remember that you told me I could perform for the rest of the inmates. What do you mean I’m too unstable. I’m perfectly stable. If you think that your crazy talk is gonna stop me
(Sounds of banging, screaming, mayhem)
(Re-enter dressed as Sherrie Loose)
Sherrie: Hello everybody. My name is Sherrie Loose. And I just want to thank our psychiatrist for letting me perform here tonight.Thank you Dr Katz where ever and who ever you might be.You see she thinks it would be good therapy for me because I’m a ventriloquist. And this is Mr Handchops.
Mr Handchops: I can talk.
Sherrie: HE can talk. And we can even talk with me keeping my lips still.
Mr H: (gibbisherish)
Sherri: But we can’t be understood very well.
Mr H; Not at all, not at all!
Sherri: Mr Handchops and I are ever so happy to be here tonight because we’re going to do a trick for you that we learned in the ventriloquist book.
Mr H: A trick.
Sherri: We’re going to eat and talk at the same time.
Mr H: Eat and talk at the same time.
Sherrie: These are real potato chips.
Mr H: Real ones.
Sherrie: Are you ready Mr Handchops?
MR H; I am ready.
Sherri: Am I ready?
Mr H: You are ready.
Sherri: Are we all ready?
Mr H (shrugs)
Sherri: Ok. (Stuff potato chips down her hand while speaking in her Mr Handchops voice) Weeee can eeeeeat and talk at the sameeee time. And we can even drink beer and sing at the same time. (Pours beer through her hand while singing “Singing in the Rain”)
Mr Handchops and I love each other ever so much. (They kiss) But sometimes Mr Handchops goes a little crazy and he starts throwing himself against the table and screaming. (He does) And then to make him shut up we have to hit him with this hammer a few times (She smacks the shit out of her hand with a hammer. It subdues Mr Handchops) And then we both cry. Because it hurts me more than it hurts him.
Mr H: Oohhhh yes!